On August 17, 2018 Perlan 2 made it's second tow into the stratosphere. We awoke to pounding rain from 4:30-5 am followed by snow flurries. But after that frontal passage the skies cleared as Dan Gudgel had forecast. Linda took the photo of the day at sunrise. On this flight (only #48) Jim and Miguel Iturmendi towed behind Arne in the Egrett to just over 44,000 feet (Flight Level 440). We did not expect wave. But each pilot needs to be experienced with the challenges of stratospheric flight. This is the highest documented tow ever of a glider and it was another "rocket ride." They were at 40,000 feet in 45 minutes from takeoff. So almost 1,000 feet per minute on average behind the powerful Egrett. Jim said:
Once the Egrett arrived and was in-processed it was time for some test tows of Perlan 2 behind the powerful tow plane. The first test flight was set up for only 11,000 feet to determine the optimum parameters.
On Saturday August 11 the Egrett finally arrived in El Calafate to provide powerful tows for Airbus Perlan Mission II. For months Mike Malis has worked on acquiring, refurbishing, and installing a tow hook on the Egrett and getting it signed off.
While we were waiting for the Egrett tow plane to arrive, it was finally time to orchestrate a dress rehearsal for a Perlan 2 wave flight from El Calafate. The max pressure test had been successful. The to-do list of preparation was almost all checked off. Systems had been checked individually since arriving in Patagonia. But we needed to test if all systems worked together, particularly the new upgrades.
With both front and rear hatches new in 2018 for Perlan 2, we wanted to verify their strength. The pilots decided what the expected pressure differential at our highest altitude might be. Then we tested above that for a margin of safety. Our Life Support System Display LSSD monitors a plethora of data. This time we wanted to pressurize to 9.5 differential psi to test the new hatches.
In 2018 Airbus Perlan Mission II has a more ambitious plan for wave soaring in the stratosphere.
In mid July 2018 Perlan Project had several meetings in Buenos Aires with supporters. Sandra Sandercock the Perlan - Argentina Liason arranged meetings last year with the aviation authorities EANA and ANAC. This year the meetings were with the Argentina Air Force, CITEDEF, and UTN .
When you have a campaign in a remote area of Patagonia you take everything necessary with you. Knowing the actual (not forecast) winds at all altitudes is extremely helpful on the day of a wave flight. Elizabeth Tattersall led the weather balloon crew last year, so she knew just what to do. Sandra and Loris were her able assistants for this first weather balloon launch in 2018 from El Calafate.